How To Rein in Your Crazy During Kids’ Sports

My daughter’s eyes filled with tears. “Mommy, why were the parents on the other team screaming so loud? It was SO distracting.” Her tears were not those of sadness, but of frustration, which made me see red. My normally chill, go-with-the-flow, always-smiling kid was crying. Not because she lost the game, but because the other team’s parents showed such terrible sportsmanship. I hugged her and told her I was sorry, that some people are just unable to control themselves, even as adults. How embarrassing for that team!

Is my daughter in college? Nope. Is she in high school? Nope. She is NINE. During her 2.5 years of playing softball, this kid has only ever cried twice. And neither time was because of losing a game. Both times it was because of the parents on the other team. Newsflash: YOUR CHILD IS NOT BEING LOOKED AT BY A COLLEGE SCOUT WHEN SHE IS 9 YEARS OLD. There is zero reason why parents should be so insanely intense that the players on the field cannot hear their own coaches give instruction. I have NEVER seen parents come so unglued as I have during softball games. And I don’t mean like, “Yay, my kid caught a pop fly for the first time!” That is exciting, and I am 100% on board with CHEERING. But guys, screaming and ringing cowbells and whooping and hollering (not to mention the fact that they yelled at the umps enough to get calls changed) throughout the entire game, so as to distract our girls? Just classless. Who does that?!

What does this teach our kids? To be nasty to the other team? During this particular game, I was equally disturbed by the opposing team’s coaches, who managed to get the game time limit called early because they were only ahead by one run, and who stalled to help stretch out the inning. Three of their batters suddenly needed shoes tied, and more than one also needed to step out of the batter’s box to have a private meeting with their coach before attempting to hit the ball. Seriously, if you beat my daughter’s team fair and square, I will clap for you. But don’t be cheap and sneaky.  I am always baffled at the number of people who wear, “Be a Kind Human” shirts or have “Be Kind” on their bumper stickers but do the exact opposite once sitting in a bleacher to watch their kid play or step out on the field as a coach.

So, here is our reminder on how to behave at kids’ sports games.

Be pro kids’ sports.

There is so much good that comes from kids sports. Our children learn how to be a teammate. They learn to cheer for teammates even if they aren’t on the field every inning. They learn to make decisions and problem-solve on the fly. They learn to trust others around them. They have successes and failures and learn from them. This makes them more confident human beings and boosts self-esteem. Don’t take that away from the other team, simply because they are the other team. Even if it’s All-Stars or a travel team.

Get excited about improvement.

I have had the privilege of watching my daughter play with a lot of the same girls over the past several seasons. We get so excited when a girl makes that play she’s been practicing nonstop, or gets out of a hitting slump, or catches that high fly ball in the outfield for the first time (let me tell you how we giggled at a teammate when she celebrated catching that fly ball so much that they all forgot the play was still going on!). I have seen the coaches on my daughters’ teams (my little one also plays softball) high-five the catcher or pitcher on the opposing team because of an awesome play that was made, even if it meant an out for our team. I am so thankful they have great coaches.

Realize it’s not about you.

Kid sports should be about them. The children. You know, the ones we do all the things for? This is not your chance to redeem yourself or live vicariously through your child. Let them do their thing. Encourage them. Let them *gasp* try out different sports if they want. They don’t have to play what we played. Did you know that on average, kids quit sports at age 11? It becomes less than fun to play, because of coaches and dare we say parents, too. The things my kids will remember from sports is not how many home runs they hit, or how many travel teams they were on, or how many games they won. They will remember their friends, the pool parties, and cookouts with people who love their sport as much as they do.

Set a good example.

Again, we tell our children to “be kind” and “don’t say rude things.” But how do they learn the best? Yep, still through the example set for them. If you can’t handle sitting and cheering when appropriate, not yelling at the umps when you don’t agree with their call, and being a good winner or loser, then don’t come to the games. Or at least sit out behind the outfield fence. Nobody needs your crazy in the stands.

READ: How to Be the Best Athletic Supporter: Tips From a Soccer Mom

Please do not mistake what I’m conveying in this post. I believe in kids being competitive and am not one of those moms who thinks everyone needs a trophy for everything they do. I am simply saying, if my 6-year-old can figure out how to be gentle when she tags a girl out who has been crying because she didn’t want to bat but her mom made her, then certainly we as adults can figure out when it’s appropriate to cheer loudly for our 9-year-olds, and when it’s wise to make your noise a quite hum so the other team can hear their coaches. If your daughter’s team is going to win, let your daughter beat my daughter fair and square — not because your screaming distracts her.

You don’t win points for being a jerk. I will forever remember the name of the team who behaved so poorly. You can make your team look classy by behaving in a manner that makes them proud. My older daughter’s team has had umps and opposing coaches call our coaches and tell them thank you for being classy and such good sports. Let’s keep it classy, sports parents. These are just kids, and they deserve our best, so they can be their best.

Nicki Wiggins
Nicki Wiggins is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to three kids, a boy and two girls. She is a wife to her wonderful hubby, Jayme, who works hard to support her Disney obsession. They met at Stetson University in undergrad and have been married for 13 amazing years. When not planning her family’s next visit to Disney, Nicki enjoys time at the beach (with the occasional paddleboarding), volunteering in her kids’ classrooms, hanging with friends and family, and exploring Florida. She recently started a blog called Date Your State, which gives tips and ideas for having fun with your family in this amazing state of Florida. She hopes to be a Floridian for life!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here